Disclaimer: Punch-Out belongs to Nintendo. So does the boxers (except for Tyson, but hey) in the games.
Author's Note: Oh God why am I spewing out this stuff like mad. I can't seem to stop writing this. This was originally meant to be a quick oneshot, but it evolved into something bigger during the process. Posting everything into one would equal in a massive tl;dr that is terribly uninteresting. The whole fic details events throughout an hour and a half, and is reasonably slow paced. The next half of the story will be posted soon.
Everything is bit more cutesy here. I've tried to keep the boxers in character most of the time - but they're portrayed so stereotypically in the games that it's quite hard to put them into a casual situation. Even 'Je Souhaite' had a patriotic moment in it. x.x It seems that so far, the only character I can pull off is Glass Joe. I keep writing Von Kaiser in a way-too-nice manner. And we all know that he's not a softie at all. x.x The more slashy bits come in much later in the second chapter, but there's nothing graphic. I can assure you that. xD That would be entirely too awkward.
Despite learning French for five years, my French is still rather limping. I apologize for any grammatical/language errors in either German or French.
Read on. Feel free to flame if you hate it. (waits again for flames)
Lazy afternoons were better spent at home with a nice cup of coffee or tea in hand. At least, that was what one particular man thought as he walked across the busy roads into a semi-secluded cafe, ready for his usual afternoon cup of coffee; if he couldn't go home just yet, he would at least find himself somewhere to drink in peace.
The cafe was old. No doubt about it. It had been open for around a decade or so, and with the ever-changing lifestyle in New York that was a very long time for such a small place to stay open. It wasn't as if the cafe had a particularly good decor or in a good location, either - it had stayed open because there had always been a steady stream of customers, and that was it. The only major thing that made this cafe different from most others was the fact that it was actually run by a French couple; they had owned a similar business in Paris previously and they knew what they were doing. As a result, the place had become a kind of haven for the more adventurous, with the couple taking orders in both English and French. The food was delicious and reasonably cheap as well (the joys of their freshly-baked croissants!), which was why this particular customer favoured this cafe for his daily afternoon breaks. He was ever so familiar with it, because he was a Parisian himself.
He was known as Glass Joe.
"Bonjour," he called out as he pushed open the door and went inside - there seemed to be very few customers around, for many people ate their lunch at a later time. The male owner looked out, smiling at the sight of his regular customer.
"Bienvenue! Vous êtes ici pour un tasse de café, oui?"
"Honnêtement, non," he replied with an apologetic smile. "est-ce que je peux avoir un 'mont blanc' avec un morceau du gâteau, s'il vous plaît?"
The owner looked at the menu for a second before he smiled pleasantly. "Oui, oui! Est-ce que vous voulez vous asseoir d'exterieur?"
"C'est une bonne idée. Merci beaucoup."
Glass Joe, having finished ordering his lunch, made his way outside by the back door and chose a secluded spot to sit in. It was a round table with three mahogany seats around it, and carefully hidden by a wooden screen and a hedge from the cafe windows and the busy streets. This was usually his favourite spot to sit in when the weather was good; it allowed him to sit and lazily watch the world pass by for an hour or two, while he himself remained mostly invisible. Of course, anyone who was tall enough could easily see through this facade, but he wasn't worrying about that now. Who would even bother doing that? He leaned back and relaxed in the warmth of the sun, waiting for the food to arrive. Lunch breaks were times to be enjoyed and he was in no hurry.
And when he was in no hurry, he loved to think.
How was his condition for the day? Fine. He still had a few bruises that lingered from his fight just over three days ago, but they no longer ached as much. Did he have any matches he needed to attend? No, he had merely came to the WVBA building to train and build up his stamina. He was going to continue with his training after lunch, but he was not running on a strict schedule and he could spare himself an hour or two. He gazed lazily around his surroundings, noting how soft the breeze was; it cooled him down, but it wasn't too strong. All was good. The scent of cakes and coffee was intoxicating; he breathed in the scent, sighing in satisfaction.
Five minutes after he began contemplating his daily life, the owner arrived with a slice of plain sponge cake, covered in strawberry icing. He apologized for the absence of the other item that Glass Joe had ordered, explaining that it took quite a long while to make - the French boxer simply smiled and accepted this with good grace. After the owner had gone, he carefully adjusted the plate so that the part with the icing faced away from him; he then picked up his fork, ready to savour the cake slowly.
He never would have guessed that this would be easier said than done.
Glass Joe had just sliced off the first bit of his cake when he heard a soft mewing sound below him. Glancing down in surprise, he found that a small ginger tabby cat was gazing up at him, rubbing against his leg and mewing plaintively; it seemed barely over three months old. He smiled softly, reaching down to pat its back gently.
"Bonjour," he greeted, despite knowing that it was probably used to hearing English. "qui es-tu, minou?"
"Je ne t'avais jamais vu."
When the cat pawed at his leg, he bent down and picked it up, setting it down on his lap. It seemed relatively tame, sitting calm and relaxed, looking up at the Frenchman with bright green eyes; it also seemed clean and well-groomed, despite having no collar or tag indicating ownership around its neck. He petted it softly with his right hand, coaxing it gently, and it rolled over, inviting him to rub its belly. Laughing, he tickled the cat lightly on the stomach, causing it to mewl and nudge his side lightly with its head.
"Tu as faim?"
The cat tilted its head to the side, a questioning look on its face. Glass Joe smiled, and reached out for the slice of cake; he broke off a small bit and held it out to the cat, feeding it little slithers of icing. The Frenchman laughed as it licked his finger clean, finding the tickling sensation pleasant.
"So you've met the resident Katze, have you?" a familiar voice called from nearby. Glass Joe looked up, startled, seeing the one person he hadn't expected to be passing by this particular cafe - the man in question was gazing at him, obviously highly amused. "never knew you had a soft spot for them."
"... Monsieur Von Kaiser!" the Frenchman exclaimed as he recovered from the shock. What was he doing here? Von Kaiser was the very last person one would expect to be passing by such a relaxed cafe. "what..."
The German boxer did not bother with giving any other reply, and merely gestured for him to wait. Von Kaiser's well-polished boots clicked on the pavement as he walked into the cafe, quickly ordered himself something and then out again, sitting down opposite Glass Joe. He was wearing his suspenders, a collared shirt and a flat cap that matched his deep reddish-brown hair; his mustache was also trimmed magnificently, and he had never looked so orderly and well-groomed before. He held a newspaper under his arm, obviously having had intentions to read it in the cafe. The sleeves on his shirt were rolled back, revealing taut muscled arms; his back remained straight and tall as he sat, and he gazed down at the younger man with some curiosity. "Guten Tag. You're a regular customer here, I presume?"
"Eh? M - moi?" Glass Joe stumbled over his words, French slipping out rather unceremoniously; he quickly composed himself and answered. "well, I do come here most days... so yes, I believe so, Monsieur."
"Now was that so hard a question?" the older man asked, sounding more amused than anything, and he smiled rather crookedly. It was not the kind of smile one could see often, nor one that people could think beautiful - but it was oddly charming at the same time. "and I swear you'll always call me 'Monsieur' instead of 'Herr'. Das ist mir recht," he raised a hand to silence the other when he showed signs of interrupting. "if you insist on doing so, I have no intentions of stopping you. What interests me is the way you've befriended that Katze so quickly."
Glass Joe looked down at the small cat on his lap. "He approached me mere minutes ago... he seemed unafraid, so I picked him up. That was all."
"She likes you," Von Kaiser corrected. "I've never seen her take to anyone so fast. She's often around this time of the day, so I've seen her numerous times. I'm guessing you usually come at a later time?"
"I do indeed."
"Here, let me hold her for a few minutes," Glass Joe complied and picked up the ginger tabby in his hands, smiling upon hearing her squeal slightly - she didn't appreciate being picked up so quickly in such an ungraceful manner. Von Kaiser took her gently, gathering up the cat's back legs and letting her rest comfortably in his arms; this move was so unusual for the German that Glass Joe couldn't help but stare. He had never known the older man to be so gentle with anything. Von Kaiser was a man who was normally calm, but couldn't keep his temper in check and resorted to assaulting a punching bag or an unfortunate fellow boxer when everything became too much; but here he was, sitting in a cafe, letting a cat sit in his arms and looking remotely harmless. Perhaps after years of harshness and hostility, the cat had come as a temporary (but nevertheless welcome) companion to Von Kaiser - cats didn't ask awkward questions, jeer or made Nazism-related remarks. All those were traits that many boxers in the WVBA didn't have.
Von Kaiser was speaking as he looked down at the cat in his arms: "have you fed her? She seems very content."
Glass Joe thought for a moment - surely a scrap of icing and a small bit off a slice of cake didn't count as feeding - before answering the question. "Non. I only gave her a few crumbs and some icing, but that was all."
"Someone must have fed her," the German boxer replied, stroking the cat's back a few times before letting her down on the ground. She went off, chasing a butterfly in the air, darting between chairs and tables. "she's such a friendly one. I don't even think that she belongs to the owners, but she's been fine ever since I saw her for the first time."
"So is she like... un chat vagabond? A stray?"
"I doubt it," Von Kaiser answered. "she's too well groomed. Perhaps others take care of her and feed her when she's hungry. It's a good thing." he leaned back casually, gazing at Glass Joe from underneath the brim of his cap. This cool gesture set the younger man's pulse racing; he looked away quickly, distracting himself with the view before he gave away anything. He was still stunned at the fact that Von Kaiser was sitting with him, making conversation in a highly laid-back manner; although he was the last person that Glass Joe had ever expected to sit down with for lunch, he had to admit that the older man's presence was pleasing.
Glass Joe had always secretly admired Von Kaiser from a distance. The man was one place above him in the rankings - not a very high place, but he was still higher up than the Frenchman and that was that. Everything about Von Kaiser was unique and wonderful to him - his accent, his blunt to-the-point logic, even his posture. There was a highly militaristic air around the German boxer that often intimidated and repelled others, but the Frenchman found it surprisingly attractive. He liked it that there was someone who was actually organized and methodical within the chaotic world of the WVBA. Glass Joe knew that Von Kaiser had been in the German military, serving first as a soldier and then a boxing instructor - that was probably why he was so disciplined and formal at most times, and not to mention wonderfully masculine. Although he was often cold and uncaring (especially for children), the younger man knew that there was a softer side to him that he only showed at certain times. Not to mention that the German was four years his senior - he was the oldest boxer in the WVBA, but definitely more charismatic than some others. Glass Joe had someone to look up to in that sense - both of them were older compared to the other boxers, and the Frenchman was glad that he and Von Kaiser were side-by-side.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Von Kaiser asked, looking at the Frenchman oddly; the younger man seemed to have drifted off into his own little world. Glass Joe looked up, startled, before he ducked his head and started on his cake. "you seem thoughtful this afternoon."
"No, I was just..." the younger man faltered as he found himself at a loss for words. "never mind."
Just how had he gotten himself into this?
"Is that nice?" Von Kaiser asked without much emphasis, looking up from the newspaper and pointing at the slice of cake as Glass Joe made his way through it. The Frenchman had eaten almost three-quarters of it by then; he looked up, still chewing.
"Mmm," Glass Joe mumbled, being too polite to open his mouth when eating.
The German boxer gave him an odd glance and looked back down at his newspaper, skimming through many articles. It appeared that now that he had Glass Joe next to him, he wasn't too comfortable with reading it; either that, or what was happening in the world at that time was of no interest to him. He finally folded it in half and placed it on the spare chair, leaning back and tapping his fingers casually against the tabletop.
"Would you like some cake?" Glass Joe asked suddenly, trying to break the silence. He mentally cursed himself for saying something so strange; what would Von Kaiser think? Where had that offer come from anyway? It was one thing offering a full slice of cake to someone, but another thing entirely offering an almost-eaten piece.
Von Kaiser looked at him with relatively little expression, giving the younger boxer some relief; at least he wasn't laughing. "What flavour is it? Strawberry?"
"Nein, danke," the German boxer replied, but there was a hint of a smile on his lips. "I'd prefer coffee."
They were interrupted from further conversation by the male owner of the cafe returning with a tray on his hand. He placed down a cup of coffee, complete with a milk pot and suger bowl on front of Von Kaiser, greeting him in English; Glass Joe was served a tall glass of what looked like vast amounts of cream, drizzled lightly with chocolate syrup. He exchanged a small conversation with the owner in French, thanking him for the dessert, before the owner went away to serve yet another customer.
"What would that be?" Von Kaiser gestured towards the creamy dessert; Glass Joe smiled and picked up his spoon at the indication.
"It's what we call a 'Mont Blanc'," he explained. "a blend of chestnut and whipped cream on a meringue base, named after the mountain itself. It's very sweet... and I daresay fattening, but hardworking boxers like us can indulge, non?"
The German boxer eyed the dessert, looking distinctly unimpressed. "Creme, hmm? Then I must agree with you. That looks too sweet for my taste."
Glass Joe raised his eyebrows, feeling rather surprised despite himself. Since when had he started commenting on the sweetness of food? Von Kaiser usually didn't eat very much, preferring to keep himself in shape, but he was known for eating rather heartily a couple of hours before every match. At those times, he usually didn't seem to care what he ate, as long as it gave him enough energy to keep him going. He had also used to eat a great deal of chocolate if he was in no situation to get himself a meal before his match - something that he'd stopped recently. It was not for reasons of health; Von Kaiser had just stopped when Aran Ryan had made a scathing comment about that habit, remarking that it was too similar to what Little Mac's trainer did ('Fraternizing with the enemy, Herr Von Kaiser?'). And Glass Joe knew all too well how the German boxer loathed the young man ('the verdammt boy', he would say) ever since losing to him in one of the most humiliating fights of his life.
But enough of that. Von Kaiser seemed to have cut all ties with sweet things, and he couldn't help but wonder if the older man had eliminated all such foodstuffs from his normal diet. From what he knew, German cuisine nearly always had something sweet after every meal. And Von Kaiser was one person who kept strictly to tradition.
"Comment ça se fait? Aren't there sweets and desserts you like? Such as... um, German chocolate cake? That's traditional, non?"
"Ein Fehler," Von Kaiser replied nonchalantly, sipping his coffee. "German chocolate cake is not of German origin. It is a simple misnomer."
The Frenchman opened his mouth to argue, but soon shut it again as he saw the pointlessness in doing such a thing. After all, Glass Joe was no expert on German food; sure, he could argue for hours regarding food in France, but right now it was German cuisine they were discussing. Von Kaiser, being a native Berliner himself, knew far too much about the subject matter and Glass Joe was only too aware of this.
"It's still a lovely cake," he mumbled, just for the sake of saying something.
"Yes, if one likes sweet things," Von Kaiser replied in the same tone as before. "but it has nothing to do with die Deutsch. And I'm not a fan of desserts."
"But If I asked you, Monsieur, then would you have something sweet?" Glass Joe asked, half desperate to get a positive answer from the German boxer for once.
Von Kaiser looked at him expressionlessly. "Perhaps."
"What if I asked you politely?"
"Politeness is a virtue, nein? Perhaps I can let that one pass - but nothing too sweet."
The younger man smiled brightly at this reply - bright enough to make the other man vaguely uncomfortable - and spooned up the Mont Blanc, taking care to get in as much chestnut in there as possible. "Bien, for that I am glad. You get the first spoonful, Monsieur," Glass Joe held the spoon up to the other's mouth. "do go ahead. The chestnuts aren't too sweet - and you did promise."
"But I don't like desserts, I tell you," Von Kaiser protested, but the Frenchman wouldn't back down. After a few more seconds of protesting, the older boxer saw no point in arguing any further - he gave in and very reluctantly opened his mouth, letting the younger man push the spoon between his lips. A rich, sweet taste, mingled with the savoury taste of chestnuts, made its way to his senses; it was overwhelming, and he sat still, savouring the taste. His expression remained mostly unreadable - but then he grimaced ever so slightly as he realized just how sweet the Mont Blanc really was. He'd also remembered what he'd allowed Glass Joe to do, which made him feel both ashamed and strangely excited at the same time; a slight blush was rising on his cheeks, but he doubted if anyone would notice it.
"Are you all right, Monsieur?" Glass Joe asked, sounding worried.
Von Kaiser didn't reply for a minute.
"Süß..." he finally muttered. "... that's... too sweet."
The Frenchman stared at him for a while - and then began to laugh.
"Vôtre visage!" he exclaimed, the spoon held loosely between his fingers as he laughed; Von Kaiser gave him an irritated glance. "if the chestnuts were too sweet for you, I'd hate to imagine what you'd think about the meringue!"
The older man rolled his eyes in annoyance. He almost blurted out something to Glass Joe, berating the Frenchman for laughing at him - he loathed being laughed at in any way. But for reasons he didn't quite know himself, he held his tongue.
It just felt as if that was the right thing to do.